Michael Vanyukov
Michael Vanyukov

‘Anti-Zionist’ academic antisemites

Antisemitism in academia is not new. High intelligence and higher education have never been reliable protection from developing irrational hate. Nowadays it takes different forms, from trying to boycott Israeli academics (some of the whom, fantastically, support that) to organizing anti-Israel public actions (those are easy to show as being a politically-corrected guise for Jew-hate).

Media provides a rich ground for growing antisemitism. A colleague has recently apprised me of the antisemitic op-eds that are published on the pages of The Daily Northwestern, the newspaper of the Northwestern University, a well-respected school. While the university, in the statement of its president Morton Schapiro, “rejects BDS” (which did not, however, preclude the appointment of an antisemitic BDS professor that prompted that statement), the newspaper appears to be on the side of Jew-haters. No, it’s not like it does not publish anything sympathetic to Jews or Israel. It’s that it observes false symmetry by publishing malignant demagoguery full of slanderous lies about Israel, its people, and the Jews in general. It inverts historic and current Arab/Muslim hate toward Jews to present them as oppressors, and convicted terrorists as “Palestinian organizers.” To make genocidal hate ever more palatable to the current progressive generation of both students and professors, TDN columnists piggy-back on “Black American oppression” and antisemitic but so fashionable BLM.

In response to two of such op-eds I wrote a letter to the editors of TDN (eic@dailynorthwestern.com; opinion@dailynorthwestern.com). It was a week ago, and I’ve received no reply. Here is that letter:

Trashing Zionism is antisemitism

Dear Editor,

While doubting that you will publish this letter, because I am not an alum of your university (or any US university, for that matter), I still feel compelled to share with you my thoughts.  It has come to my attention that your paper has recently become a platform for anti-Israel propaganda. Ms. Othman, contrary to history and common sense but in line with antisemitic canards, asserts in her June 14, 2021, op-ed that the terror war just inflicted by “Palestinians” (Hamas terrorists) on Israel, with over 4,000 rockets fired indiscriminately at Israeli citizens, is the consequence of the “73 years… of settler colonialism, dispossession and apartheid.” This short letter will not allow me to give a detailed debunking of that malicious slander that delegitimizes Israel from its very beginning in 1948. The truth, however, is that that “narrative,” presenting the incessant Arab/Muslim anti-Jewish genocidal aggression, terror, and intolerance as “resistance,” a term associated with fighting Nazis, turns history upside down.

One can read detailed treatises, like The Claim of Dispossession by Arieh Avneri, or short articles like Benny Morris’s Israel Had No ‘Expulsion Policy’ Against the Palestinians in 1948, but a brief historic note may suffice. The Jews are the native population of the Promised Land, with uninterrupted presence there for thousands of years. The Arabs that reside there are descendants of violent jihadi colonizers who came from Arabia or more recent in-migrants of the same origin. When Jordan, invading Israel in 1948, illegally occupied the eastern part of Jerusalem, which had been the only Jerusalem until 20th century, with the Jewish majority since mid-19th century, the invaders killed or expelled every single Jew from there, destroyed the synagogues, and used the stones of the Jewish cemetery for latrines and roads. That is how Jerusalem became “Arab East Jerusalem,” demanded to become an exclusive possession of Arabs.

No Jew was allowed to visit the holy places there, let alone live. There are no Jews in Jordan, specifically excluded from Jordanian nationality by law. No Jews are promised to be allowed in the Arab state that is part of the “two-state solution,” so desired by the “world community,” to be governed by the PLO. That terror organization, by the way, is tellingly recognized by the world as the only legitimate representative of the “Palestinian people,” an entity invented in the good offices of Lubyanka, in the KGB headquarters in the Soviet Union [as well as its Romanian subsidiary and Nasser], upon the defeat of Arab armies by Israel in 1967. It is the KGB that trained the future leaders of the PLO in their terror tradecraft. The “apartheid” Israelis, on the other hand, are 20% Arab, those Arabs having all the rights that the Israeli Jews have.

What is even worse than Othman’s antisemitic screed, however, is Mr. Kamel’s June 21, 2021, reply to it. The “anti-Zionist” (a common cop-out) Jew-hater is not surprising, but the mealymouthed counter-argument that agrees with that Jew-hater “on some points” is soul-crashing. Agreeing with lies like “anti-Zionism is not necessarily anti-Semitic” or that “’From the River to the Sea’ can be understood to mean a shared society of Jews and Arabs” (which that genocidal slogan for Judenrein “Palestine” never meant) helps the liars and defeats the ones lied about. That includes the author of that reply who thus becomes a liar himself—whether because he lacks knowledge to debunk the lies that he agrees with or just wants to be agreeable.

This way or another, he accepts evil—as happens every time when, in a case of true dichotomy, one hesitates to take the side of good. Contrary to Mr. Kamel’s assertion, “the issues at hand are… black and white.” Black and white dichotomies do exist. There are things where there is no middle ground: not between a murderer and his victim, not between the robber and his. Seeking middle ground in such cases tends to end on the side of evil. Tiptoeing around ahistorical slander that capitalizes on a purported connection of the self-inflicted problems of Palestinian Arabs with current racial politics in America inevitably results in Mr. Kamel’s “discomfort in [his] Zionist identity.” That cancels Mr. Kamel’s own simple definition of Zionism as “Jewish self-determination in some portion of our ancestral homeland, a land Jews have lived in continuously for thousands of years.” As Isaiah 5:20 says: “Woe to those who say of the evil that it is good and of the good that it is evil; who present darkness as light and light as darkness, who present bitter as sweet and sweet as bitter.”


I’d like to add to that letter that I do agree with one opinion that appeared on the pages of The Daily Northwestern, in an op-ed by Dr. Norman Wang: the paper, politically unipolar as befits its almost 100% leftist staff, is definitely not worth paying for if it ever becomes a paid subscription.

About the Author
Michael Vanyukov holds a Ph.D. in genetics and is Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Psychiatry, and Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. He immigrated in the US as a refugee from the Soviet Union over 30 years ago. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent any institution or organization.
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